DK Metcalf is off to his best start to a season for the Seattle Seahawks since his sophomore year in 2020. Through 4 games the former Ole Miss Rebel is averaging 67 yards per game, a 1,139 yard pace over a full season which would be the second most in his career. There is though an argument to be made that Metcalf is on pace to have the best season of his career. His receiving success rate of 78.3 percent, catch percentage of 78.3 percent and yards per target of 11.7 are all career bests by a wide margin. The uptick in these numbers can likely be pointed to the fact that Metcalf looks much improved this season. Both his hands and route running have taken a step forward which has led to multiple big plays, some of which we will review below.
Metcalf 34 yard reception against the Carolina Panthers
DK Metcalf may have gotten away with a subtle push off before breaking inside on deep crosser, but that was all he needed to create enough separation for Geno Smith to hit him in stride for 34-yard gain. #Seahawks pic.twitter.com/rp9W6qz4ic— Corbin K. Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) September 26, 2023
This is the longest reception for Metcalf on the season and there’s not much complexity to it. He is lined up at the top of the screen as the X receiver with the Panthers in Cover 3 zone. With how the coverage plays out, Donte Jackson carries Metcalf across the field on the deep over route. Despite a push off at the stem, Metcalf does not create much separation during the course of the route. The lion’s share of credit for this play has to go to Geno Smith who made a fantastic throw. Had he thrown it flatter or put it where Metcalf was running it likely winds up in Jackson’s hand with the potential for a pick 6. Instead, Geno puts the perfect amount of touch on the ball and leads Metcalf up field for the easy catch.
Metcalf 22 yard reception against the Panthers
Excelente trabalho de DK Metcalf achando o espaço entre as zonas. pic.twitter.com/GuARSBdzdY— Rapinas do Mar (Cortes) (@cortesrapinas) September 26, 2023
There’s open and then there is what DK Metcalf was here. Carolina once again looks to be in cover 3 zone and because of the at the snap motion by Tyler Lockett, the defense’s right deep third safety gains depth and the curl flat zone defender has to pick up Lockett. As a result, Metcalf has an open runway to run a deep curl untouched and uncontested.
Metcalf touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams
Metcalf showed a lot of maturity here as a route runner that he did not have earlier in his career. He slow plays it off of the line of scrimmage ,which gets Derion Kendrick to be a bit static and flat footed. Once Metcalf recognizes this he hits him with a quick jab step to the inside to get Kendrick to bite on the slant before he cuts it up field on the go. 2-3 years ago I do not think Metcalf would be able to create nearly this much separation on a sluggo. The fifth year pro showing these intricacies as a route runner should only excite Seahawks fans for what he can produce over the next few seasons.
Metcalf 17 yard catch against the New York Giants
The 15-yard dig route is nice to see as Metcalf was able to create some separation at the top of it, but the more impressive part is the hands catch. When Metcalf was coming out of Ole Miss and in his first few seasons as a pro there were some question marks about his hands as he amassed 26 drops over his first four seasons. However, this year he is showing far more reliable hands as he is on pace to drop just 4 passes which would be tied for the fewest in his career. Metcalf being able to be trusted to make catches on these styles of routes would bring a whole new dimension to this Seahawks offense.
Metcalf touchdown against the Giants
Finally, a good angle of DK Metcalf's late hands mastery on seven-yard touchdown on Monday night. Banks was completely turned from the quarterback and had no idea a throw was coming that direction. Lesson learned from Tyler Lockett, the king of late hands. pic.twitter.com/Sj2CIDKPMs— Corbin K. Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) October 4, 2023
This is an extremely intelligent play by Metcalf. When Smith leaves the pocket, instead of trying to mirror him or come back to the ball he instead stays in the back of the end zone. The Giants corner Deonte Banks is face guarding DK, but it looks like the rookie almost gave up on the play entirely when Geno was rolling out. The touchdown is made though from Metcalf’s late flash of his hands. If he shows them earlier and reacts to Geno there's a good chance Bank gets his head around and breaks it up. Instead by Metcalf showing them at the last second, it keeps the corner frozen and allows the wide out to get his second touchdown on the year.